A total of 205 companies participated at this year's exhibition, including sixty international companies, from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Turkey, Pakistan, China, Italy and Germany. Attracting approximately 3,000 visitors each day, the prevalence of locally made equipment was a pleasant surprise for many in attendance, reports FASIKA TADESSE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER.
Ashenafi Merede, a businessman, was cheerful when leaving the compound of the Addis Abeba Exhibition & Marketing Development Enterprise (AAEMDE) on the evening of Wednesday, September 17, 2014. He had just visited the 11th Ethio-Con Exhibition, which was organised by the Ethiopian Construction Contractors Association (ECCA).
The exhibition, named “Construction: Path to a Better Future”, brought together importers, exporters, real estate developers, contractors and others related to the sector, such as insurers and consultancies. This year’s exhibition was sponsored by Nib Insurance Company S.C, Mesebo Cement Plc, ABULSHASE Plc and National Cement S.C.
Ashenafi’s smile was caused by a business discussion he had just held with a Pakistani paint manufacturer, who was in search of a local partner to distribute their products in Ethiopia.
“We made an appointment to meet for additional discussions before they return back to their country,” said Ashenafi.
Ashenafi was visiting the Ethio-Con exhibition for the second time and this visit was bringing him close to a deal. The exhibition had 205 participating companies, including 145 local companies, such as the Metal & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), Royal Ceramics, TIMEX Construction Plc and MIDROC Ethiopia. Sixty international companies came from Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Turkey, Pakistan, China, Italy and Germany. Last year, the exhibition had drawn only 110 local and 40 international companies. A year earlier, in September 2012, there were just 100 participants.
The participants were accommodated in the three pavilions, as well as the open space inside the exhibition centre. Pavilion One can fit 90 of the smallest sized booths, although most of the participants rented larger spaces because of the size of the items they had for display. Pavilions Two and Three hold 48 booths each, and the 2,500sqm space outside can accommodate 140 booths.
The show attracted 3,000 visitors each day, according to the organisers during its opening hours – between 9AM and 7PM in the evening. It came 10 days after the busy New Year Bazaar, which the organiser, Century Promotion Services, claimed was attracting 15,000 visitors a day.
Companies, such as TIMEX, Ford, Mitsubishi, JCB and MetEC, with heavy machinery, including loaders, excavators, forklifts, drilling machines and tractors, were allotted space outside, while those with small to medium-sized items, such as construction finishing input materials, were situated in each of the three main halls and at the side of the pavilions.
“To see such locally made equipment is a big change,” said a visitor, Wossen Alem, who had returned from the United States (US) to begin the manufacturing of pipes and fittings in Ethiopia. “These are inputs for the business that I plan to establish.”
Local and international companies paid 16,000 Br and 6,000 dollars for the same 16sqm space inside the pavilions. Mohammed Darawwad, sales and marketing manager of Ardent Plastic Industry Co Ltd – a Turkish company, which makes irrigation equipment, pipes and fittings – was displeased with the quality of service he got in exchange for the money he paid. Local companies paid a daily rate of 200 Br a square metre inside the halls and 125 to 150 Br in the open.
“Last year, the floor was clean, but this year it is too dirty and disgusting to work on, in addition there are continuous power cuts,” he complains.
ZTA Technology Solution Plc – a local company that specialises in installing Copper, Fibre Optic and Wireless Local Area Network (LAN) infrastructure for buildings and houses – was participating for the first time this year and was happy to meet many contractors to introduce its services to.
TIMEX, a construction machinery importer, was promoting its road compactors imported from Pakistan, which it sold for between 11,000 Br to 16,000 Br, and a concrete sprayer and plastering machine, which could spray and plaster 480sqm within eight hours.
Habtamu Yosef, who rents construction machinery, remembers seeing more construction machinery last year and more construction finishing materials this year.
“Paints, locks, ceramics, wall partitions and window shutters, electric systems and lighting are, surprisingly, the most dominant products in the exhibition,” he said. “This shows a shift from the previous year, where tractors and loaders were prevalent.”
The Association, established in 1991, has 1,500 members. It spent 1.5 million Br for the organisation of the event, including promotional and labour costs, rent for the exhibition centre, 37,000 Br for Abyssinia Musical Band, which has 18 members with the prominent traditional music singer Habtemichael Demissie with traditional dancers, according to Solomon Gizaw, general manger of the Association.
The Exhibition Centre, established in 1983, has been under the management of the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association (AACCSA), under a 10 year contract with the Addis Abeba City Administration Trade & Investment Bureau, since November 2005. But the AACCSA and the city administration are working on the establishment of another exhibition and conference facility, to be located in the Meri Lukie area of Yeka District, with the administration contributing 32 million Br and more money being raised through the sale of shares.
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